Have you processed your COVID grief? What I mean is, have you processed what you lost in the past two years? The past couple years have been tough, on everyone, and here’s the thing, we are actually experiencing a collective grief. Brittany N. Cole in her book “Thrive Through It” walks us through what thriving through grief looks like, highlighting that grieving is not only felt through the physical loss of someone, but instead defines grief as …
Grief is a natural emotion of complex, conflicting, and frequently unpredictable feelings in response to a loss or change that disrupts a familiar pattern or prevents the desired outcome.Thrive Through It, Brittany N. Cole
This definition of grief makes me think about that extreme disruption that our world has felt through COVID-19. So what is it we lost, or do we even know yet?
Book Review of Thrive Through It
Overall, I really enjoyed Brittany N. Cole’s book Thrive Through It. Cole dives right into the hard stuff from processing the loss of her mother and the pressures women, particularly women of color, face every day. She will have you reflect on your career, your current challenges, and the pain of your past as she guides you through her Resilience Roadmap and copious amount of acronyms to remember her tips by. Thrive Through It helps us define grief in a whole new way as well as how to walk yourself through grief and how to help others walk through grief. You will learn how to have empathy conversations, how to take your thoughts captive, and how to reimagine, reassess and reinvent yourself. Cole leans on her faith and experience to walk you through grief, whether it be a physical loss, career challenges, or even positive change. During this time of COVID-19, I recommend you take some time to read and reflect on Cole’s words as we all process the many things we lost during the pandemic.
Processing COVID-19 Grief
COVID-19 took a lot from us, it took our normalcy, it took our commutes, our happy hours, our weekend festivals, our vacations and travel plans, for some, it took our family members. It generated conflict between political parties, harsh words between family members, it took a peace we once knew. We are in a collective grief, however we still don’t know what we truly lost. Did we lose traveling, festivals, and commuting forever, or is this all just temporary? Well, first its important to identify exactly what you lost specific to the last two years. Maybe you lost attending your kids graduation, your freshman college experience, you lost your baby shower, your work holiday party, your big vacation, your move to the big city. All of us lost our sense of routine, the way things used to be, our certainty about tomorrow, and our control over our daily lives and plans. We continue to live in the unknown which leads to anxiety, anger, and depression for many of us. In Cole’s book, Thrive Through It, she points out the importance of checking in with how we are feeling and writing down everything we lost. She explains that “grief is a self-re-discovery process as you uncover who you are in your new set of circumstances. When you allow yourself the time and space to articulate what you are feeling, you’re better able to guide others on how they can support you in your process.” So take some time today and check in with yourself, identify your feelings and losses, and seek support. You will feel empowered as you call these items out. And remember, you are not alone, this is a shared experience and you will probably find that many of your loved ones are feeling the same.
Processing Positive Change Grief
Another big takeaway for me in this book was how grief shows up not only with negative changes such a global pandemic, a loss of a loved one, or a job loss, but also with positive experiences such as a new job, a move, a promotion, a baby, or a puppy. These positive changes, just like negative ones, cause a “disruption to a familiar pattern” (remember that’s how we define grief). This year for me was filled with positive experiences, we got a puppy, my husband started his MBA, we bought our first home, and I got a big promotion. Yet I couldn’t understand why I felt sadness and anxiety so often. Cole helped me identify all that I lost. I lost “the way things used to be “. I lost my freedom with a puppy, I lost my workout partner when my husband started his MBA, I lost my weekends to house work when we bought a house, and I lost the consistent work and comfort zone of my old role when I got the promotion, all the while still living in a COVID world where I lost the travel, events, and festivals that use to keep me going. Have you had a positive experience recently that left you feeling a little numb to the joy or confused by your lack of excitement? If so, you may want to list out all the things you lost, most commonly you probably lost “the way things used to be”. Talk to your support network and allow yourself to fully experience all the emotions associated with that grief. It’s okay to be sad or overwhelmed when a lot of good things are happening too.
- How to have empathy conversations with someone who is grieving or struggling. I always struggle with what to say when someone is grieving, sometimes to the point that I just don’t say anything at all. I loved that Cole gave us an actually helpful structure to follow to empathize with those who are grieving. Its the 5 C’s:
- Clarify – How are you processing all of this? What are you most concerned about right now? What do you need most right now?
- Context – What else is being impacted? Who else in your life are you concerned about since this has happened? What else will change as a result of this loss?
- Connection – Think about how you can be what the person needs based on your prior questions. Ask how you can be most helpful.
- Call to Action – What support would be helpful for this? Perhaps you can offer to pick up extra work at the office, maybe pick up the kids at soccer practice, or be a listening ear.
- Commitment – How will I plan to support the person beyond the present?
- How to take your thoughts captive. Negative self talk and self sabotage is something many of us women struggle with. Cole provides a framework to control those thoughts, or take them C.A.P.T.I.V.E.
- Challenge – Challenge unwanted thoughts “Why do I think that?”
- Awareness – Become aware of what triggers certain thoughts and feelings
- Persist – Push past the thoughts to dismiss, decide or replace
- Truth – Replace negative thoughts with truth and affirmations
- Intention – Set an intention on where you will focus
- Vision – Set a vision of yourself that will guide the intention for your thoughts. What do you want to become?
- Every Day – Repeat these strategies every day to make a habit of it
If you are dealing with any kind of grief professionally or personally, make sure to read more great takeaways from Brittany N. Cole’s book, Thrive Through It.
I would love to hear from you in the comments below. How are you feeling? And what has helped you process your COVID grief?
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